Summary: The bible teaches us that those who have the habit of prayer experience rich spiritual blessings in their hearts and lives.
Reading James 5:13-18
James 5:16b “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”. (NKJV)
James 5:16b “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects”. (RSV)
The bible teaches us that those who have the habit of prayer experience rich spiritual blessings in their hearts and lives. Scripture and Christian History both testify that the men who have served God in the most significant ways have been men with an earnest prayer life. This morning, the Lord has laid upon my heart that, we should consider together some of the rich rewards that come to those who have express their faith in a life of prayer.
There are five points I would like us to cover.
1 The vivid awareness and nearness of God.
2 The vital experience of the dearness of God.
3 The enlightening experience of the wisdom of God
4 The enabling experience of the strength of God.
5 And, the cleansing experience of the forgiveness of God
First I want us to think about the vivid awareness and nearness of God.
James 4:8 says “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”. When the grateful and humble child of God seeks to come to the throne room of the heavenly father, one of the great benefits that will come to him is a vivid awareness of the nearness of God.
a. Experiencing the nearness of God can be a frightfully disturbing experience for one who has not experienced genuine repentance, sincere confession and the joy of being cleansed from the pollution of sin (Isa 6; Luke 5:8-10).
b. Experiencing the nearness of God can also be very comforting (Psalm 23:4). He Gives strength and help in time of difficulty.
c. Experiencing the nearness of God can be very exciting (Phil 4:13). The assurance of the nearness of God can give great courage and even joy as we face the various trials of life.
The vital experience of the dearness of God.
Jesus taught his disciples to approach the Creator God not on the basis of his being their creator, but in terms of him being “Our Father in heaven” (Matt 6:9). While He is the God who is in heaven, He is also our Father who we can speak to in the closest way in prayer. It is in the prayer experience that the Father communicates His nearness and His dearness to those who look to Him in faith and trust Him.
The enlightening experience of the wisdom of God James 1:5-8
Throughout the bible and in the history of the church, we have testimony after testimony of how as men and women have prayed, God stimulated their thinking and caused them to have new insight into how to deal with specific problems, strains or pressures of life.
There are many instances where God has helped his discouraged children to recall memories of His goodness and mercy in the past to help them to face the pressures and trials of the present.
The enabling experience of the strength of God.
(Read Isaiah 40:29-31).
He gives power to the weary; and to him with no vigor; He increases strength. Even the young shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but those who wait on Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Time spent in the presence of God fills the child of God with strength that comes from Heaven.
You probably know the cartoon character Popeye!
He faced many difficult situations and dangerous crises – but he never had adequate strength to deal with them until after he had eaten his spinach.
The same way, in which the Spinach gave Popeye strength, time spent with our Father brings us His strength.
The apostle Paul prayed for the believers at Ephesus that they might be strengthened with might through God’s spirit in the inner man and that they might be filled with all of the fullness of God (Eph 3:16,19). Paul encouraged them to trust in and depend on the God who was at work within them and who was able to do far more abundantly than anything they had previously asked for or even thought about (vv 20-21).
The cleansing experience of the forgiveness of God (1 John 1:6-7)
God is eager to forgive His sinful children. He is eager to cleanse us and make us white as snow. Our heavenly father does not delight in our being guilty or burdened by sin. He is eager that we forsake the ways and attitudes that are destructive and come to him for forgiveness and cleansing.
The bible tells us that our God is a forgiving God who fully forgives, freely and forever. We need to turn from the sins that disrupt fellowship, destroy influence, and deprive us of joy. Prayer is the divine gift by which we can come into God’s presence, receive his forgiveness and experience both the cleanness that follows and the joy of a restored fellowship.